The 3 Layers That Define Cloud Computing

Sam Bloedow

Uncover the Capabilities of Cloud Technology

If you define cloud computing as those services that are available through a web interface, you’ve only scratched the surface. There are three types of cloud computing services to cover:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Digging into the three layers of cloud services will help uncover the capabilities these technologies can bring to your company. Utilize them to be more agile in how you respond to changing customer needs or market opportunities.

The following will expand your cloud technology definition and distinguish between IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

This is the layer of the cloud that you’re likely most familiar with. If you go to a web page and login to access a tool or service, you are using SaaS.

Some SaaS offerings are free, or at least free for a baseline set of services. Businesses utilize SaaS on a subscription basis for multiple functions from HR, accounting and payroll, to sales, marketing and project management. While the core functionality of the application is hosted on the provider’s servers, there are some apps that require you to download software to your PC or device. This extends the app’s capabilities in other ways such as synchronizing with multiple devices.

The benefits of SaaS include easy entry and startup. Most apps allow you to add or subtract users as needed so that you only pay for what you use. The provider takes care of all software upgrades, support and uptime. Many SaaS industry applications can be integrated with one another to customize their use. For example: your marketing application could integrate with your prospect database, or your procurement application could integrate with your ERP software.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

If you aren’t a software programmer or web developer, you might not think that you’ll ever need PaaS. This overlooked layer of the cloud is the one that can address your business’ unique requirements.
In a cloud computing definition, PaaS is simply where software is developed. PaaS examples include app construction and testing - you might use PaaS if you need to customize your industry-specific business application. Build and test it in the cloud before making it live to the company.
You can also test out a software update in a PaaS environment. This is beneficial if you’re concerned how the update will affect your processes or if have many customizations that could put other systems at risk.

If your company is considering taking your business applications to the cloud, you could use PaaS to build, test and launch.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS is a computing service that allows you to access the physical components of your infrastructure – hardware, software, storage and network workings –remotely via the internet. You no longer need to maintain the hardware that would normally provide these services. Your network cloud becomes fully remote.

Your IaaS provider handles system maintenance, software updates, backup and security, sparing you the task of maintaining that equipment. IaaS is good for companies that need to scale up or down quickly, or that experience sudden changes in capacity. Subscriptions and pay-as-you-go arrangements eliminate capital expenses of investing in hardware.

These layers of cloud computing sometimes overlap. A part of PaaS includes the infrastructure that goes with the platform. A well-managed cloud program leverages these three types of cloud computing to run your business safely and more efficiently.

When is Cloud the right choice?

The advantages of cloud computing will depend on your company’s unique goals and situation. The choice to go to the cloud should be part of a business discussion, not just a technology discussion. You’ll want to consider the future of cloud computing within your company and develop a comprehensive plan for how to best utilize the vast applications available.

Expert Cloud Advice and Support

Most companies need help to strategically align technology with their business goals. Thriveon offers ongoing IT strategy and consulting with outsourced IT services. We can help you navigate the three main types of cloud computing, understand the pros and cons of this technology and mitigate the risks of cloud computing. Schedule a meeting today to get your questions answered and to start building a secure network that serves your business needs.

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photo credit: Fluffy Cloud via photopin (license)


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